sam isn’t another modular house bauble for the well-heeled. sam revives the original spirit of modernism – using the technology of the times to better our lives. A century ago, a group of European architects recognized the possibility of integrating mass production with traditional craft as a means of providing well-designed homes and furnishings to the working class. The architectural movement they pioneered – modernism – became synonymous with hip style, yet the design-for-everybody altruism was largely abandoned.
Which brings us to 2010, where a simple plywood chair retails north of $625 in tony stores with names suggesting their products are within anyone’s grasp.
sam leverages common carpentry skills to build smarter healthy homes quicker. The simplicity of the design and process means sam comes within reach of all sorts of people in all sorts of locations. sam dispenses with unnecessary labor, materials, and space, favoring classic simplicity over fussy clutter. From lake front property to inner city neighborhoods to suburban enclaves, sam’s at home.
Builders admire sam. The ease of the system shortens construction times, which drives framing costs down without sacrificing energy efficiency or quality. Homeowners like sam. Clever details have been integrated so owners won’t be handcuffed to expensive yearly maintenance. DIYers adore sam. A straightforward building to construct, sam allows even the hesitant weekend warrior to convert time and sweat equity into wealth. In rocky times, sam makes a sound investment.
sam doesn’t believe attainable solely means a low initial price. That’s short sided thinking, only considering one aspect of home ownership. sam’s low-maintenance exteriors, durable windows and doors protected by generous overhangs, and copious insulation translate to low operating costs. sam is attainable today, attainable in 2040 – classic always. That’s what modernism intended.
Looking for champagne space on a beer budget? Crack the Dom.
Buildings built today should be sustainable, sure, but what exactly does that mean?. “Green” and “sustainable” are so ubiquitously slathered on ad copy, they’ve lost their punch.
What does sustainability mean to sam?
1. Energy efficiency. sam is loaded with twice the insulation you’ll find in most homes built today. sam is cool when it’s sweaty, cozy when it’s icy. You can’t touch sam’s performance with any house that has 2X6 walls. Period.
Walls, R-50 standard
Windows & doors, R-3.5 standard
Ceiling, R-80 standard
Foundation, R-40 per design
Slab, R-20 per design
2. Durability. sam is built to last, skinned with long-lasting materials you won’t spend your weekends maintaining. Within sam’s thick walls are two cavities – on either side of the insulation layer – for ventilation. “So what?” you ask. No condensation, no mold. Materials intelligently layered to stay dry and maximize their service life. That’s what.
3. Responsibility. sam is compact without sacrificing comfortable spaces for modern living. sam comes in S, M, and L, ranging from 860 to 1,680 square feet in one story, story and a half, and two story configurations. sam won’t compel you to pay for, be taxed upon, insure, or heat and cool an XL, XXL, or XXXL house. Keep your money to travel, invest, vacation, give to charity, or just collect the experiences that make life memorable.
Yeah but where’s the bamboo and solar panels? Hey, don’t get us wrong, sam loves accessories: low-VOC walls and ceilings, energy-conserving appliances, agriboard cabinets, recycled paper counters, certified milk paints, native green roofs, and lawn mowers powered by cellulosic biofuel. Nevertheless, no number of nifty gizmos will get you to the summit of Everest without an intelligently designed jacket. Get the essentials, then add the bling.
Although most clients find Locus through word of mouth or because they’ve seen our past work, now and then we go after new work by answering a request for proposal (RFP) sent out by a developer, neighborhood organization or non-profit. One of the criteria often included in an RFP is to describe our past experience for that building type. For example, here’s a requirement from a request that we recently considered - “provide detailed information on the last three completed multifamily projects that are most similar to this project, including description of project, drawings, cost of construction, and developer/owner contact information.” This is a troubling requirement and raises some interesting questions. Can architects design a building without prior experience with that building type? Are our skills as designers and problem-solvers transferable across building types?
We believe the answer to both is YES, and apparently so do our peers. Last week Locus was awarded an AIA Honor Award for the White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church (WBUUC) in Mahtomedi, MN. This is the second award granted for this church design, the first awarded last year by the Interfaith Forum on Religion, Art and Architecture, a community of church architects. An article about the church, titled “Nature Sanctuary”, is published in the Nov/Dec issue of Architecture MN.
When we interviewed for the job in 2005, we made it clear that this would be our first church design. We didn’t have a long list of past, similar projects we could, or more importantly “would”, draw from as we worked. No, we would design something unique for their community, based on a long and involved process of learning who they were and listening to their hopes and dreams for the space.
We’ve won many awards over the years, nearly all of them for building types that we had never designed before. Fortunately, our clients for those projects didn’t base their decision to hire us on our past experience for projects most similar to theirs. And we’d like to think they’re better off for it. As Victoria Safford, WBUUC minister, described when they first began to use their new space, “we’ve held four services now in the new sanctuary here, and every week it is as if we are entering the spaces here for the first time, so beautiful are the movements of light, the textures of steel, concrete and glass, the seemingly impermeable boundaries between inside and outside. The congregation is in a state of amazement and gratitude – as am I. This work you have done here is beautiful. Thank you.”